I Realized All B2B Marketing Should Use ABM Principles. Here’s Why

  • Sunil ShahSunil Shah

A wise man once said: All marketing is a calibration of friction.

Sure, that wise man is me. But that doesn’t rob it of its truth, yes?

Look at it like this: Marketing’s a bit like that weird game called curling. You know, the one where players, called sweepers, furiously sweep the ice in front of a moving stone to lower friction and guide the stone to a goal? Here’s a fun version of the game.


The chappie with the blue spade, that’s us!

Marketing’s like that. At one end, you have buyers. At the other end, you have a great product or service. Our job? Our job’s to be the sweeper furiously decreasing friction so that buyers end up with our awesome stuff.

Let’s take Spotify, as an example. Marketing’s job is to get consumers to pay for the service. So it drives ads, each of a specific length, inserted at predetermined intervals, all designed to make you just the right amount of uncomfortable, so that you’ll pony up–but not annoyed enough that you’ll quit the platform.

Calibrate friction, offer sweetener, get buyer: That’s marketing.

Marketing combines this tactic with low entry prices to induce consumers to pay for the service. In India, where Spotify was launched recently, a day pass goes for as low as $0.20.

Calibrate friction, offer sweetener, get buyer: That’s marketing.

Here’s another example: Landing pages. Aren’t we continually calibrating the number of form fields, text and design to lower friction and cognitive load, while amping up the promise of the takeaway (whitepaper, playbook, free trial)?

Calibrate friction, offer sweetener, get prospect: That’s marketing.

What does all of this have to do with why all B2B tech marketing should take an account-based approach?

It’s really quite simple: ABM strategies are able to lower friction more effectively than other marketing tactics.

That’s why taking an ABM approach is a superior B2B marketing strategy, it’s why we believe all B2B tech marketing should apply the principles of ABM.

Let’s unpack that.

Key Tenets of ABM

At its heart, an account-based marketing strategy targets accounts (it’s right there in the name). We select a list of accounts (how large that list is depends on the type of ABM you’re driving) and we target them.

To do this effectively, we leverage insight/intent data to drive content that feels purpose-built, and therefore more relevant, to different stakeholders, within specific accounts, or account groups, say, manufacturing. (There’s an example further down.)

Then we employ outreach mechanisms that allow us to target only specific accounts (buh-bye spray-and-pray).

What we’ve done, essentially, is to lower customer friction by making marketing more  relevant. We’ve looked at the specific problems and aspirations of a specific person–or team–within a specific account–or set of accounts–and we’ve showed them how we can help them with our awesome solution.

Some marketers have realized that very deep levels of personalisation can be wasteful, if you employ an email channel to deliver your message. The clutter of the email channel gets in the way of creating impact.

Here’s what’s going through a potential prospect’s mind: “Your solution doesn’t apply to my industry, my business, or my department. It doesn’t fit my roadmap, my budget, my organizational culture. It doesn’t fix my specific business problem,  or play nice with my current technology environment, or it requires skill-sets we don’t have.” All of that is friction. All of which can be dissipated more effectively by applying ABM principles, thanks to its inherent ability to personalize and create relevancy.

An Example of Content-Based ABM

Let’s paint a scenario.

Say we’re selling a set of AI solutions and want to target manufacturing companies in the APAC region using newsletters carrying articles.

Step 1 would be to select the manufacturing accounts we want to target, and figure out which personas we want to reach.

Let’s say we choose 200 companies (call on that buddy in sales).

Step 2 would be to select the appropriate personas within manufacturing firms that you want to target. We have to be convinced that these personas can derive value from our solution. In our case say we’re selecting plant managers and R&D teams.

We’d then download their data from our CRM.

This is what a simplified spreadsheet probably looks like:

Step 3 would be to create content that is relevant to a specific persona because the way we would sell AI to plant managers would differ from how we’d sell to R&D teams, right?

To a plant manager, we would demonstrate how AI could lower defect rates, and equipment downtime, while increasing factory output.

To R&D teams, we’d focus on how AI could help analyze images and text in wear-and-tear and service data to help R&D create better products that require less servicing, and have longer warranty periods.

By ensuring that we can offer content that makes sense to specific personas–and then targeting them accurately, we’re fundamentally lowering friction.

Lower friction=better marketing.

However, the more fine-grained our personalisation and targeting is (imagine being able to target a single individual’s in-the-moment challenge), the more expensive marketing gets.

Some marketers have realized that very deep levels of personalisation can be wasteful, if you employ an email channel to deliver your message. The clutter of the email channel gets in the way of creating impact.

But that’s another challenge, for another article.

Is your company attempting an ABM campaign? Drop us a note!


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